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The Day I Realized I HAD to Plant a Church

Most people have no concept about why I planted a church. They also have no concept how long I waited and prayed about it.

It took me a long time to plant a church.

The day that it became clear that I had to plant a church happened in the fall of 2008. On this particular Sunday morning as I stood on the stage of the church that I loved, leading them in worship to God, I looked out and saw someone I had never seen before sitting on the back row. He stood out because he was very different looking than our regular attenders. He wore black from head to toe, he had chains hanging from his belt and pocket. The man was probably in his early twenties and he had many tattoos and piercings.

It came to the point in our service when our members would get out of their seats and greet our guests as well as one another. I had my eyes on the man – I wanted to watch our church handled him and they were struggling.

(Please Note: this church is one of the friendliest, open churches I have EVER seen in my life. They LOVE people – all people. But as I watched them I saw how this guy was stretching them. They were going out of their way to greet him but this guy was SO different that it was an obvious challenge.)

I could not take my eyes off of him. As I was preaching that morning I was drawn to him - We had never had anyone like this dude at our church and I loved that he was with us. At the end of the service I made a bee-line to him before he could get out of the door. 

“Hey man. I’m Mike.” I said. He told me his name was “Chris”

“Chris, I’m so glad that you came today. I hope you had a great experience this morning. Man, I hope that you’ll come back.”

As I watched Chris walk out the door I KNEW that I would never see him there again. We were as foreign to him as he was to us. And as hard as our congregation tried to connect with him it was a challenge and he could no doubt feel that tension.

That was the morning that I realized that, as great and loving as that church was, there is a whole segment of the population that will never fit into that church. Who was going to reach those people.

When you come to Vertical Church it is eclectic to say the least. We have so many people with tats I have often joked that it looks like we give them out as gifts to our 1st time guests. Tattoos, piercings, dressed in black. We have young people, old people and in betweens. People of many cultures and races attend Vertical. And all of this reminds me that we SHOULD be diverse:

Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It took me another 18 months to follow and to be obedient to the call that I had sensed for more than 5 years. But that is the day that I realized that I HAD to plant a church for the rest of us – a church that anyone can come to and feel welcome and loved no matter how they look, live or where they’ve been. We will love people where they are and allow the Gospel to do what the Gospel does: change lives.

I love Jesus. I love my church.

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